Rv 10:8-11; Ps 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131; Lk 19:45-48: What is the joy of your heart? What is the joy of a human heart not damaged by sin or stained by deception? The Lord Jesus has given us his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary to answer this question. Indeed, she was conceived without sin in the womb of her mother Saint Anne, and she conceived her first-born son, the Lord Jesus Christ without a father. Such wonders fill our hearts as we celebrate this liturgical if not historical feast day. Since our Blessed Holy Father, John Paul II, the great, has exhorted us to breathe with both lungs, since we need to integrate the spirituality of the east and west in order to fully breathe in the Holy Spirit, this feast cannot be ignored or trivialized. Indeed, if we want to know the joy of our hearts, we must ponder the mystery of the presentation of the Theotokos in the temple. What joy is more palatable than the joy of Mary’s parents presenting their miracle child to the LORD in his sanctuary? This holy child knows the sweet taste of the Lord’s promise to save us from the hands of all who hate us. From her very conception the Blessed Mother rejoiced in the decrees of the LORD; this was the treasure of her very existence. Holy Mary took great delight in all his decrees; they were her wise and prudent counselors. The law of the LORD, indeed every word from his mouth became more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces. The promises of the LORD are sweeter than honey to the mouth. His decrees are the inheritance of the just forever; the joy of the human heart. Indeed, the Theotokos gasps with open mouth in her yearning for the LORD’s commands. Her life is sweet because of the LORD’s promise. Indeed, the LORD makes this promise manifest in her presentation in the Temple. We are called like Saint John to take the scroll and swallow; it will taste sweet as honey in the mouth. The Lord Jesus gives great honor to the Temple in Jerusalem; he calls it a house of prayer for all people. Into this holy place the Virgin Mary is presented, and we are invited by this liturgy to come and see such a wonder.
The Visionary of Patmos, the Beloved Saint John, continues to hear and respond to the voice from heaven. Indeed, the mystery of the cross is glimpsed in the small scroll. Just as the Blessed Virgin had her heart pierced with a sword of sorrow, so too, each of us will share in that suffering and that sorrow. As she is presented in the Temple before the eyes of our hearts so that we never forget how available in that Temple she is for us interceding before the Throne and the Lamb. Indeed, the Holy Spirit inspires her petitions in groans unutterable. This is the same Spirit who inspires Saint John through the voice from heaven, “Take and swallow” this small scroll. It’s not a large scroll; there is no competition here with the Prophet Ezekiel. On this small scroll is the simple and sacrificial mystery of the cross. The message of the cross is good news to those who desire holiness. At first it is sweet and delightful to enter into the forgiveness of our sins; at the outset of our Christian life there is such joy. As time goes on and the message is ingested, it turns our stomach sour. There is a gripping fear of the responsibility we now have. We who have been healed, liberated, transformed in the mystery of the cross must now speak a word of prophesy to authorities and to crowds. Now our lives are not to be lived just for ourselves; now we live for others. Now we become one with the mystery of the cross. Now we make up in our own suffering for what is lacking in the Body of Christ. Indeed, the mystery of the cross spans the sea and the land, and we become one with that mystery.
Jesus the Son of God and the Son of Mary enters the temple near the end of his ministry according to the Gospel of Saint Luke. He has already entered that temple in the hands of Saint Joseph and his Blessed Mother, the Theotokos. In his own Presentation the old priest, Simeon, and the elderly prophetess, Anna, came to behold the fulfillment of the promise. His parents take him again when he is twelve and loose him among the teachers in the temple area. After three days they find him and he asks them a question his mother pondered in her heart, “Did you not know I had to be about my father’s business?” This is not unlike the other memory of the Blessed Virgin from the priest Simeon, “Through your heart a sword will pass.” The first two times that Saint Luke has the Lord Jesus in the temple his Mother Mary is there too. This time he is in the temple area as an adult, as a prophet. This act of cleansing the temple of those who were making his Father’s house a den of thieves is the fulfillment of the previous two times he was with his Mother Mary in the temple. His prophetic action and his preaching is a severe challenge to the powerful among the leaders of the people. This public challenge to “the way things are” is reason enough for the leaders of the people to silence, discredit, and ultimately execute this Son of God and Son of Mary. Without the gift of his humanity through the Blessed and “holy throne of God, chosen treasure house, and mercy seat for the whole world” the Lord Jesus could not have been about his Father’s business of redeeming and saving all humanity. Even now all the people of God are hanging on his every word; even now all the people of God rejoice in his life-giving Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.